Summer is in full swing which means canning season officially has begun. A trip to farmer’s market yielded 30 pounds of apricots from R & K Orchards in Corning. (Here’s an article I wrote about Karen, “The Peach Lady,” and her orchard.) Seven hours later, my sister, my mom and I had put up more than 20 quarts of halved apricots in light syrup and 60 plus jars of apricot and apricot-pinapple jam.
As if my feet had not endured enough abuse already, I set out two days later to can stewed tomatoes — the beautiful, juicy Celebrity variety. I had received the invitation while stirring pectin into the pot of apricots two days earlier from my mom’s friend of more than 50 years, Louie, and could not resist the offer. After all, he was generous enough to provide the kitchen and tomatoes he had grown in his thriving garden.
I met Louie for the first time that day and was impressed by the fact that he didn’t mind two outspoken, get er done sort of women taking over his kitchen. In fact, he jumped right in. The three of us stood hip to hip at the stove, stirring, pulling jars from boiling water and yelling “lemon juice” when the time was right.
While the jars cooled in the middle of the dining table, we nibbled on sandwiches and thumbed through Louie’s vintage recipe book collection — do I need to say I was in heaven? He let us sample his pickled okra, pickled green tomatoes and some sort of garlic hot sauce. He’s quite the epicurean.
On next week’s canning agenda: peaches, and bread and butter pickles (Louie’s recipe). The following week, strawberries and blackberries. After that, God only knows what.
Though I grow a little weary thinking about the hard work ahead, I know come winter when I am jonesing for a peach, my efforts will pay off in the form of a warm-from-the oven peach cobbler.